Pinterest’s Diversity Experiments

By Michelle Quinn
San Jose Mercury News.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Pinterest recently hired its first diversity director. The company has set clear goals for 2016: to increase the female hiring rate to 30 percent for full-time engineers (up from the current 21 percent)…empowering women in silicon valley? We’ll Take it!

SAN FRANCISCO

Pinterest is in a race against itself to create a more diverse workforce.

By its own accounting, the Internet firm hasn’t made headway on the issue since it launched its efforts in 2013. It’s still mostly a white and Asian male workforce.

Despite being seen as an industry leader for its push for more diversity in tech, the social media firm has hit a wall.

And time isn’t on its side. As Pinterest grows, it now has about 700 employees, each new hire makes less and less of a percentage dent in its workforce composition.

But Pinterest isn’t alone. A lot of Silicon Valley companies are struggling with this issue. They may have failed to get employee buy-in, set clear hiring goals or be more strategic instead of relying on an ad hoc approach. While the pool of potential job candidates has become more diverse, hiring managers still tend to pull from the same set of universities and backgrounds when they make hires.

Pinterest wants 2016 to be different.

It is experimenting with ways to boost the diversity of its pool of candidates and has set aggressive hiring goals. As part of that push, Pinterest recently hired its first diversity director, Candice Morgan, previously senior director and global consultant at Catalyst, the New York-based research nonprofit that promotes women in the workplace.

Does hiring a diversity director mean change is afoot?

Maybe. It will depend on whether she has the CEO’s ear, said Telle Whitney, chief executive and president of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. She pointed to Intel, where Danielle Brown, chief of staff to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, recently took on another role as the firm’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

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